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Conservatorium of Music (former Courthouse and Police Station)

Item details

Name of item: Conservatorium of Music (former Courthouse and Police Station)
Other name/s: Courthouse and Police Station
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: 45 Mann Street, Cnr Georgiana Terrace,, Gosford, NSW 2250
Local govt. area: Central Coast
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
45 Mann Street, Cnr Georgiana Terrace,GosfordCentral Coast  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Gosford Court House is a visually prominent building, which comprises an earlier building designed by Colonial Architect M Lewis in 1849 with additions designed by J Barnet in the after Victorian period. It is of considerable historic, social and townscape significance to Gosford and is a fine and intact example of early nineteenth century stone architecture. It is the oldest public building on the Central Coast and provides a rare example of a public courthouse. It has historic significance for its association with the growth of the Gosford township through the development of primary Institutions, its prominent position on Mann Street forming part of the urban streetscape. It has social significance for its continued use by the Police and forming part of the Government precinct.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Mortimer Lewis, J. Barnet
Builder/Maker: George Paton
Construction years: 1848-
Physical description: The Gosford Court House is a prominent building sited on the high side of the street on a raised sandstone base course. The present Victorian Free Classical building's appearance was completed in the 1880s, and is a very utilitarian in design and is largely the work of Barnet. The front elevation is largely unadorned apart from the bargeboards on the gable roof line. The Court House is sited next door to the Police Station.
Construction: The Gosford Court House is constructed in sandstone with some brickwork with a fine sandstone retaining wall.
Exterior materials: Sandstone, brick.
In close association with municipal offices and the Old School of Arts. Front of Old Courthouse has a steel fence and garden bed with mature trees that screen the facade. New courthouse addition has alignment on footpath as does the south facade of the Old Courthouse. The Old Courthouse has a rectangular plan with hip roof and awning roof over verandah along front facade. Verandah has timber posts and cast iron brackets. Walls are rough cut regular sandstone blocks. Concrete steps to front. Timber framed, multi-paned double hung windows. Timber soffits to eaves. Cast iron decorative vents to south facade. Sub floor stone walls deteriorated. Brick extension to rear. New Courthouse is L-shaped with gable roof to front and hipped at rear. Decorative barge boards and detailed stonework around circular vent to top of gable end. Three timber framed elongated double hung windows to front facade. Ashlar sandstone with picked finish structure on rough faced sandstone base. Timber framed, hipped wing to south facade adjoining Old Courthouse, possibly enclosed verandah. Rendered chimney with terracotta pots to rear.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good (Date condition updated:04 May 10)
Date condition updated:23 Feb 13
Modifications and dates: Additions designed by J Barnet in 1884.
Further information: Recommended conservation strategy: A Conservation Plan should be prepared before any work is undertaken. Any proposed work should respect the existing building fabric, including the interior of the building. (Courts Administration Files)


Historical notes: The Gosford Court House was designed by the Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis. Significant alterations and additions were made to the original building in the 1880s which were designed by the later Colonial Architect J Barnet which included a new Court Room (now superseded) across the north end of the 1849 structure and a lean-to verandah.
Historical periods: 1826-1850, 1876-1900
It is the oldest public building on Central Coast. Associated with early settlement and growth of Gosford region, it forms an important feature of the streetscape of Gosford City. Built to replace slab structure in Donnison Street. Courthouse contained a courtroom and three other rooms, connected to a three cell lock-up by walled, open-air exercise yard. The open-air exercise yard was originally secured with criss-crossed hooked steel bands, which allowed the sunlight to penetrate while preventing the escape of prisoners. The steel bands were later removed due to rust. Substantial court premises added to north side in 1890's and Old Courthouse became lock-up keeper's residence. Now used for Police offices. Brick extension to front of lock-up in 1928.

Until European settlement, the area around Gosford was inhabited by the Guringai peoples, who were principally coastal-dwellers and the Darkinjung people that inhabited the hinterland. Along with the other land around the Hawkesbury River estuary, the Brisbane Water district was explored during the early stages of the settlement of Sydney. In the early 19th century some pioneering European settlers began occupying the land, for timber-cutting (mainly ironbark and Australian red cedar), lime production and grazing.[citation needed]

Gosford itself was explored by Governor Phillip between 1788 and 1789. The area was difficult to access and settlement did not start before 1823. By the late 19th century the agriculture in the region was diversifying, with market gardens and citrus orchards occupying the rich soil left after the timber harvest. The road between Hawkesbury (near Pittwater) and Brisbane Water was a cart wheel track even in 1850.

Convicts once lived and worked in the Gosford area. In 1825, Gosford's population reached 100, of which 50% were convicts.

East Gosford was the first centre of settlement. Gosford was named in 1839 after Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford a friend of the then Governor of New South Wales George Gipps.

In 1887, the rail link to Sydney was completed, requiring a bridge over the Hawkesbury River and a tunnel through the sandstone ridge west of Woy Woy. The introduction of this transport link and then the Pacific Highway in 1930 accelerated the development of the region.

Gosford became a town in 1885 and was declared a municipality in 1886.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Administration of Justice-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building marks the development of Gosford as a major urban location requiring Government support through Institutions for Law, Order and Education.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
NSW Department of Public Works and their Colonial Architects Mortimer Lewis and James Barnet.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The buildings are prime examples of Colonial era and later Victorian architecture, constructed to the high standards then demanded of Government Institutions.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The buildings are highly valued by the community and listed by a range of heritage agencies
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The design and construction offer opportunities for research
Integrity/Intactness: Good/Good
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Heritage Report required prior to any proposals for alterations or additions which may adversely impact on the significance of the building, its curtilage or streetscape value. All materials not originally painted such as stone or face brick should remain unpainted. Those materials which originally had a paint finish may be repainted in complimentary colours. Window and door openings should not be enlarged or filled in. All future alterations should consider the retention of the form, scale and character of the building. The relevant authority who has jurisdiction over the site should be notified with the aim of ensuring preservation.


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Statutory InstrumentList on a Local Environmental Plan (LEP)30 Apr 13
Recommended ManagementConsult with owner and/or community29 Sep 13
Recommended ManagementReview a Conservation Management Plan (CMP)29 Sep 13
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education29 Sep 13


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan 721 Dec 12   
Local Environmental PlanGosford Local Environmental Plan 20143811 Feb 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Gosford Heritage Study1999 Graeme BrookesGBA No
Gosford City Council Draft LEP Heritage Items200424Suters Architects  Yes
Gosford Community Based Heritage Study2013 David Scobie Architects Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1620048

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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